My first instinct is flight.
When I fight with my boyfriend, and I can't even anymore, I flounce out of the apartment and take a walk somewhere. The flouncing is important, of course, but escape is still the point. I want distance between me and the thing I don't want to face. Literal distance (although it pleases me to see that dictionaries have redefined literally to also mean figuratively) is best, and the more distance the better. State lines matter. (Another reason to love the East coast.)
When I have sex with a girl on the first date and only afterwards realize that I can't stand her, and I don't have the backbone to use my words and instead spend a week terrified that I might run into her in the pedmall, I think, if only my car were working. If only I could make it to Missouri, I could text her. "O HAI" I could say. "I've left the state! Bye!" Distance is power.
I didn't apply to any colleges that were closer than 1000 miles to home. I picked a college 2,700 miles away.
(I like comfort. I like stability. I like knowing that my life will continue, as is, without much effort on my part. I like having a default setting. Really, I love these things.)
I told a story once, because I had a microphone and an audience and I thought I was going to tell a good story, but it came out all wrong and instead I bad-mouthed a guy I used to like. I mean, first and last name, and uncommon enough to be the top result in a google search. It was a shitty thing to do, even if no one but me remembers. There might be a recording, who knows? It exists in the world, this thing I said, and I am shamed by it. So I never went back. Because someone might know me, might remember what I said.
I have never been to karaoke night at Studio, because on that first date, she told me she went often. I ended up running into her, four years later, at a reception for an ex-classmate. I'm not sure if she recognized me or not.
It's much easier to draw lines across distance than time. Distance is forgiving. Distance is something I can cross by myself. Distance lets me leave things behind. Time, on its own, is never enough.
It's not that I've never had a history before, it's that I never had to live in the same state with it. Not for long, at least. Even if I hadn't moved away yet, I knew that I would.
I don't like all of the people I've been. I'm not proud of all the things I've done. I think, if I could just get away, to Michigan or Tennessee. I have a new car this time. I can escape. But I don't. I'm still here.